Cover by Brian Fling

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Mobile Information Architecture

Although information architecture has become a common discipline in the web industry, unfortunately, the mobile industry—like software—has only a handful of specialized mobile information architects. Although mobile information architecture is hardly a discipline in its own right, it certainly ought to be. This is not because it is so dissimilar from its desktop cousin, but because of context, added technical constraints, and needing to display on a smaller screen as much information as we would on a desktop.

For example, if we look at the front page of http://www.nytimes.com as seen from a desktop web browser compared to how it may render in a mobile browser (Figure 7-2), we see a content-heavy site that works well on the desktop, and is designed to present the maximum amount of information above the “fold” or where the screen cuts off the content. However, in the mobile browser, the text is far too small to be useful.

Comparing the New York Times website in desktop and mobile browsers

Figure 7-2. Comparing the New York Times website in desktop and mobile browsers

The role of a mobile information architect would be to interpret this content to the mobile context. Do you use the same structure, or sections? Do you present the same information above the fold? If so, how should that be prioritized? How does the user navigate to other areas? Do you use the same visual and interaction paradigms, or invent new ones? And if ...

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